Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood and is a leading cause of emergency medical treatment. For children experiencing an asthma exacerbation, emergency department (ED) guidelines recommend early systemic corticosteroid (CS) administration, since studies have shown associated, time-sensitive, decreases in hospital admissions and ED length-of-stay (LOS). For patients who are treated by 911 emergency medical services (EMS) first, there exists an opportunity for even earlier administration of CS, prior to ED arrival. Yet, preliminary data demonstrate that currently less than 10% of EMS pediatric asthma patients receive CS prior to ED arrival.
Given the known time-sensitivity of CS' effects on patient outcomes, the investigators hypothesize that even earlier EMS administration of CS will decrease hospital admissions, ED LOS, and intensive care unit admissions for pediatric patients with an acute asthma exacerbation. Using a pragmatic observation stepped wedge design in both Lee County EMS and Nassau County Fire Rescue Department, we will enroll between 300-500 patients over a three-year period o analyze clinical outcomes and comparative costs of EMS CS administration, and how both are influenced by EMS transport time. That novel combination of analyses will help build evidence-based guidelines adaptable for diverse EMS agencies nationwide.